ETU had the opportunity to talk Dragan Jovic, successful Olympic coach and for many years Chairman of the ETU Coach Committee. We discussed the fundamentals of coaching but also the future of Taekwondo, PSS and events in the world.
What is the key to your success as coach? Can you elaborate on what you think good coaching involves?
I don’t think there is a universal key to any kind of success. It’s a combination of many things that sometimes make the training process complicated, but if you know who does what in the team and who is the locomotive of the team, I think that train can reach the goal quickly.
It is necessary to have a good team of experts around you who complete the coaching job.
We have been working with a sports psychologist for 17 years, we have a nutritionist, conditioning coach, physiotherapist’s office and taekwondo trainers in the club.
We are all just cogs on the machine called the competitor. Everything is subordinate to their improving and taking care of each individual athlete. First of all, knowledge, readiness for innovation and great trust between the coach, the athlete and the professional team are needed for a top result.
Can you share your view on the development of the PSS system in general? We have seen a market domination by Daedo in the past years. Now, KPNP is also slowly gaining a market share. What are your experiences with the PSS? Is it still sustainable for the future?
It’s a really hot topic in the last few years. As an idea, it’s a great because all athletes are equal, no matter what country they come from. The referee factor had to be reduced to a minimum in order for taekwondo to remain an Olympic sport, and this was done with the introduction of the PSS, which led to the possibility for anyone who deserves to win a medal from any continent and from any country. That was a real hit.
As far as the technological progress of the PSS system is concerned, I think that we are now at a great standstill. The technique with which PSS systems were made in the beginning has not changed even now, which is a very outdated technique. That’s why there are various problems at competitions. The systems are not well protected, so there are disconnections in the middle of fights. Currently, taekwondo technique is being adapted to PSS, which is unacceptable. PSS must be made to support the most accurate and correct technique.
Because of those adaptations to the PSS, new strikes were invented that led to many knee injuries. Currently, KPNP has an advantage because there are fewer errors, but it is not a perfect system, nor is Daedo. If we talk about the future, I think that a system will have to be created that will have the same electronic socks and that will perhaps distribute several licenses to companies. As we have a dobok that is the same with different company names.
How do you look at the developments of the Competition Rules? The rules tend to be changed quite often. How does that affect you as a coach and how do you manage to adapt to the new rules so fast?
In practice, it turned out that something had to change. The goal is a more attractive competition and attracting the audience and sponsors. In the last couple of years, we have had several rule changes. That was really hard to follow and adapt to. I hope that these are the last changes until the Olympic Games, and after them maybe something will change, but not much. I personally don’t like fighting with the best of three system in which an athlete can win the match by winning two rounds, but many people do. I accepted it and adapted. I think one of the changes could be that the winner is the competitor who had more set points if it gets to the third round and if the round is tied at the end. Thus, they would still give importance to technically better prepared athletes who managed to have more points in a certain round. I think that the rules are much better now and that people have gotten used to them. For sure, some newspapers will lead to some more changes in the future, but certainly not many.
The 2023 Calendar is so full that almost every week athletes can go to a G1 event. Also from ETU and WT side, the events are booming. Can you share your views on how the future should be in your eyes? Do you believe the current system works? Would you like to see a more distinction between the elite athletes and the rest? Is there a particular sport that you think we as Taekwondo can learn from looking at their event structure?
WT knows my opinion about the event calendar. I hope that its structure will change after the Olympics. The calendar is not good and does not allow the athletes to get in shape properly, which leads to injuries and insufficient recovery of the competitors. In addition, the number of G1 tournaments should definitely be reduced. In my opinion, the calendar should look like as follows. First should be determined when the Continental or World championship is being held during the year. If it is in May as it has been so far, then the first GP should be at the end of March. The first G1 should be the in the first weekend of February, the second G1 also in February, then at the end of February or the beginning of March there should be a Presidents Cup or G2 tournament. After that comes the GP competition. The second GP should remain in June, the third at the end of September and the GP final in December. Between each GP, we should have a few G1 tournaments and the remaining G2 event in order for the athletes to recover physically. I believe that in this way, the fights at major competitions would be better because the athletes would be more prepared and without injuries.
Currently, the calendar does not allow competitors to recover and be ready for the next GP if an injury occurs. For example, someone who gets injured in September and cannot train for several weeks cannot be ready for the GP in October. It is especially important to provide time for athletes to recover through the calendar, as in other sports. We now have a winter break after the final GP until February. It would be good to have a similar summer break period in August. That would certainly contribute a lot to athletes lasting longer and being healthy.
The last concern is that the event calendar for the following year is sometimes published too late. I think that we should release the calendar for the next year already in October of the current year. In many federations, budgets are planned and submitted to the Ministry of Sports in October, and problems arise when we do not know where and when the competitions will be held. In this case, we can learn from other similar sports like judo who Maybe we could take that from similar sports like judo or some other sport. We presented all these and similar ideas to WT and President Choue and received a promise that big changes will happen after Paris 2024. We all want a more beautiful, attractive and healthy sport because we are wholeheartedly in it. I believe in the bright future of this wonderful sport to which I gave everything and from whom I received everything.